The rumors were true. Microsoft has announced a possible new Xbox Game Pass tier that will, if fully rolled out, allow subscribers to share their membership benefits with up to four friends. Currently the option is only being tested in Ireland and Colombia, but hopefully this is something that will expand to the rest of the world in due course.
Interestingly, while other ‘family’ plans (such as Spotify Premium) insist that you have the same address as the people you intend to share a membership with, this deliberately seems to be an offer intended to get friends and family separated by geography playing together. The only restriction is that they “must reside in the same country as you.” And even that might be down to the geographical limits of the current test.
“This makes it even easier to play the best Game Pass games with friends and family across console, PC, and cloud by enabling you to add up to four people to your subscription, all with their own unique access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games, content, and benefits,” wrote Tyler Mittleider, Senior Technical Program Manager, in a blog post announcing the test.
The words “unique access” also suggests that players will be able to play games at the same time, meaning that you and four friends should be able to enjoy a round of Halo Infinite multiplayer or another of the best Xbox Game Pass games together using the same subscription.
So, what’s the catch? Well, aside from the fact that this is just a test that could fail, it will certainly cost you more money than a standard Games Pass Ultimate subscription, for one.
Microsoft doesn’t specify exactly how much more, but there are clues in the post. During the test, you can’t buy a membership but instead have to enrol in something called “Game Pass — Insider Preview.”
This converts your subscription “based upon the monetary value of the old membership,” and Microsoft says that a full month of Ultimate will be converted to 18 days of the new plan.
Game Pass Ultimate — which gives you access to multiplayer, EA Pay, cloud streamed titles and free games on Xbox and PC — currently costs $15 a month. Working backwards from there, it seems that the new plan will be $25 a month.
That’s undoubtedly a big price hike — especially if you currently only pay $9.99 a month for basic Xbox Game Pass — but a bit of a bargain if you know four other Xbox owners who are happy to split the cost five ways.
Hopefully the test will be a big success and the option will be rolled out to Xbox friends around the world before the year is out. Game Pass was already one of the best deals in gaming: with this, it could be even better.
Nor is this the only improvement coming (or potentially coming) to Game Pass at the moment — as we've also reported recently, there's a new Xbox Game Pass widget coming to Windows 11, which will make it easier to see what's coming and leaving the PC version of the service.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.